The recent hubbub about Color, by Scoble and the other’s, discussing the poor first experience and “Bubble Welcomes Color”, is partially on the mark, is also partially off. I won’t deny that the execution and even idea may have been weak, but I think it was mainly a chicken/egg problem. They also walked into a problem with the buzz around their funding, it being so abnormal they had mass’s attention, to the point of possibly being a detriment. For both of these negatives, they have some very intriguing aspects, some that will certainly be surfacing in other products, over the next few months – years.
In today’s world, with several large pre-built social networks, it is extremely possible to piggy back, at first. to build your market usage to help reduce the chicken/egg issues. As far as I can tell, they did nothing to mitigate the chicken/egg issue, and may have actually made it more prominent with their decisions to only offer the sharing in a small area and time period. Those two features, are great in an active environment, but in this one, that is new and empty, it provides a negative experience lacking true interaction. Why would anyone want to use it if there is very low level of interaction?
The funding news helped to promote Color to a larger audience, because of the discussion that was caused by the abnormally high investment of $41 million. $41 million for a company that was on the dawn of releasing it’s first public product. Assuredly absurd, or is there something there that everyone was missing; there are varying opinions on this. In light of the bubble speculations, of the past few months, many are leaning toward the absurd, and point back at Color as evidence that there truly is a bubble. The extra attention, which was exposed to the poor interaction, and the negative connotations of the bubble, are overshadowing what could be a great product.
The public introduction to implicit networks, even as an idea represented in the video demo for the product, is what I find most interesting about the service. The use of creating one based on vicinity to other users is brilliant, if they had an active user base, of course. The whole idea that you can interact with strangers to embrace the moment, is the key to the idea of “you had to be there,” and makes it easier to create real-world memes. I can definitely seeing this being an amazingly fun experience, in sharing and creating images/videos with strangers, it could generate games like ‘I Spy’ on the fly. There is something to this product, and I’m a little worried that it will be missed, because of the previous reactions.
I’ve said a few times over the past week, “If Color was a Twitter Client, then it would have been really impressive. Images, not so much,” and even joked that it was Twitter’s new anti-client stance that ruined the app. I might take back my comment about images, now, as I think it is a good fit, but maybe not for the introduction. In my opinion, it may have been more useful if it was a fully, or mostly, functional client for Facebook or Twitter, and provided the feature of sharing posts made through Color, with others in the vicinity, as is present in the current version. A decent client, with this bonus functionality, in my opinion would have been amazing, because it lets you engage those directly around you, when you want, and could create a virtual icebreaker. The major benefit of a client would have been, that the app is usable even when nobody else is nearby.
They could also widen the vicinity, 150 feet seems like a very small area and would probably be better suited to 300-450 feet, so that there is a little bit of room to play with it. If they widened the vicinity, it could also open up the service to a nice little promotion network, with ideas for people to get together and do. I think this may be their biggest issue currently, the area just sounds too small to be effective; they need to open it up.
Overall, they made plenty of mistakes out of the gate, but I think they are definitely in redeemable territory, particularly with the numbers in the bank. What they can do immediately is expand the vicinity, add some other types of media (besides just images and comments on them), and create some sort of larger interaction outside of the small ‘global’ area. Right now, it’s all about creating some active audience, so they should focus on specific areas to promote it, as Scoble mentioned about focusing on SF and NYC, and some introductory use cases, such as games like ‘I Spy.’ Ultimately, I do see Color as a company that will succeed, even with their current stumbles, but they do need to pick it up and start running with something that will boost interaction. It’s all about interaction and engagement.
I wish them the best of luck.